Technology & Innovation

Appetite for apps outstrips capacity to develop them in UK businesses

By OutSystems
Technology & Innovation
Published: 22 June 2018

UK businesses are at risk of experiencing an “app crunch” as fierce demand for apps meets a developer skills shortage and a lack of investment in customer-facing tools, according to the latest State of Application Development report from OutSystems.

The 2018 global research report examines the challenges faced, development priorities and acceleration strategies of IT teams worldwide, putting the spotlight on critical issues.

Five key findings defining the UK market

  • Demand for apps is booming: demand for apps in the UK is higher than the global average, with 45% of UK IT professionals stating they will develop more than 10 apps in 2018 (compared with 42% globally) and 14% aiming to deliver more than 100 apps this year (compared with 10% globally).
  • Backlogs are a significant problem: 61% of UK organisations report a backlog in app development with 17% having more than 10 apps behind schedule.
  • The skills shortage is more acute in the UK: 67% of UK respondents had hired web or mobile developers in the past year with 87% of those surveyed reporting difficulties in hiring the right talent, compared with an average of 80% reporting difficulties globally.
  • Lack of investment in customer-facing tools: while UK businesses are prioritising the development of customer-facing applications over internal business apps, they are less than half as likely as their global counterparts to have invested in customer-centric tools such as customer journey mapping, design thinking and lean UX. This will limit their ability to deliver compelling, customer-focused apps.
  • The UK is behind the curve in low-code adoption: the UK lags the rest of the world in adopting low code, with only 24% of organisations using rapid application development systems/platforms, compared with 34% globally.

Nick Pike, Vice-President UK & Ireland at OutSystems commented: “Demand for apps in the UK is clearly booming, but our survey indicates that the availability of developer talent and investment in customer-centric tools are not keeping pace. As demand outstrips supply the app development crunch will bite. This means backlogs are likely to increase resulting in frustration among UK businesses as they face delays in digital transformation programmes. They need to think strategically about investing in the tools that can accelerate app development, boost the productivity of developers and help them develop the kinds of customer-facing apps that they want to build.”

Worldwide, the survey found robust evidence that low code adoption has crossed the chasm and is becoming a mainstream approach to meeting the challenges of swift, agile and controlled app development among the “early majority”. 34% of businesses said that they were already using low-code and a further 9% plan to do so.

Organisations that are already using low-code reported major benefits and were 21% more likely to describe their organisation as being happy or somewhat happy with the speed of app development and three times more likely to report having no app development backlog. Low-code is also fuelling agile and DevOps, with organisations that are using rapid application development more likely to describe their level of maturity as further advanced than those that do not use it.

Those using low-code also reported better governance of citizen development, being three times more likely to describe it as highly governed than counterparts that don’t use low-code platforms.

Summarising the global picture, Nick Pike comments: “Organisations who are embracing low-code/rapid application development are reaping considerable performance benefits. They are developing faster and more efficiently, with fewer back logs and greater satisfaction overall. As low-code continues to become mainstream we will see more organisations using it as an essential catalyst to power business transformation.”